Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, California
August 5, 2012
My fellow Guadalupanos, your presence here today is a testament to the power of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the message she brought to our hemisphere nearly 500 years ago.
In the historical event of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we have a blueprint for our own work in the new evangelization.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Empress of the Americas. She calls all of us to unity within the Gospel message of her son.
Mindful of our important principle of unity, the Knights of Columbus has been working to unite people of faith throughout our hemisphere, since 1882 in the United States, since 1897 in Canada, since 1905 in Mexico and the Philippines, and since 1909 in Cuba.
Today, we are learning much about Our Lady of Guadalupe. But none of this learning will matter unless we take her message to heart. We must see the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, not as something distant. We must see her message as a present reality in our lives – a reality that can transform our lives.
Blessed John Paul II told us that the future of humanity passes by way of the family. The Church continues to teach that “the family is the cornerstone of society!”
As sons and daughters of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it is up to each of us to make sure that this cornerstone instills values that we can be proud of. The family is where our children learn from their mothers and fathers what life is all about. The family is where the next generation is given the tools to live a life of Catholic virtue.
And nowhere is the future of the family more important than in our hemisphere. We live on the continent of baptized Christians, a place of great hope for the future of our Church.
We live on a continent that has been uniquely blessed by the Mother of God. When Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego, she began the greatest conversion to Catholicism in history. At a time when the Church was losing millions in Europe, Our Lady of Guadalupe came to us and called millions to conversion in the Americas.
Pope Benedict the 14th said: “To no other nation has such a wonder been done.” At the time he said this, that nation stretched – as many have noted – from Seattle to the Southern tip of Argentina. Later, because of this Pope Pius XII proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe “Empress of the Americas.”
So, the wonder that had been done was done not only for one people and one nation, but for all the people of our hemisphere.
Para toda la gente de nuestro hemisferio.
We are all citizens of the Catholic hemisphere.
Todos nosotros somos ciudadanos de un hemisferio cristiano.
While some continents have never been Christian, and while many European churches are almost empty, our Churches are still full. Here the Church faces a bright future.
No other place on earth has as many practicing Catholics as the Americas. It is up to us – in our lives, in our homes, and in our families – to put our faith into practice.
Our continent is one drawn together by shared history. On a historical level, all of our countries are nations of immigrants and Native Americans. On a spiritual level, all of our countries share a common heritage of Christianity. And on a personal level, every person on this continent shares a mother: Our Lady of Guadalupe.
We are called to present the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as mother of the civilization of love.
Remember this! What unites us as a Christian family – the family of the Guadalupana – is far greater than anything that divides us.
And if we who live on the American continent have a shared past, today we share the future: a future of unity in faith.
The rosary – which we say today – and our love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, can unite our city, our country, and our hemisphere.
From the very beginning, the story of California is united with Our Lady of Guadalupe.
When Blessed Junipero Serra came to the New World, he did so in a ship named Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. He was almost shipwrecked on the journey. When he arrived he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and there dedicated his ministry in America to her.
All of us in this stadium today are heirs to his ministry and to his dedication to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Now more than 200 years after Blessed Junipero Serra came to California, and almost 500 years after Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, we stand together, on a continent with a Christian heritage in common.
How do we stand for our faith? By embracing our neighbors in charity and in faith. By working closely with our priests and bishops. By living a commitment to charity and to building a civilization of love.
Let us remember the example of Saint Juan Diego. He was a layman. He was not rich or powerful. But by working closely with his Bishop and faithful to Our Lady, he brought the light of Christ to an entire hemisphere.
He should be a model for all of us.
Pope Benedict has said: Lay people must be viewed as ‘co-responsible,’ for the Church's well-being.
Nowhere is the Catholic laity stronger than in this hemisphere. Every one of us must do our part.
In our nation, one in four Americans is Catholic. Every Sunday, churches are filled with Hispanic Catholics. Hispanics in the Church are not an abstraction.
In the Knights of Columbus, they’re our brother Knights, our fellow Caballeros de Colón since 1905, when we established our first council, Guadalupe Council 1050, in Mexico City.
The Knights of Columbus is an organization founded by immigrants and the sons of immigrants, dedicated to charity, to our families and to our church. I invite every Catholic man here — come join us. Help us carry on the work of St. Juan Diego.
Look around you now in this stadium. What does this mean? Why are we really here together today? Why has Our Lady brought each of us here today?
Our Lady of Guadalupe is Our Lord’s special promise to us. She is the Star of the New Evangelization.
She can bring about a re-birth of faith and of Catholicism in our country if we are faithful.
Our Lady of Guadalupe points us to her son. And she also points us to unity in her son and for Catholics this unity must transcend borders.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe nos lleva a su Hijo, y también nos lleva a la unidad en su Hijo, unidad, que para los católicos debe trascender fronteras.
This must include every person. It must include the immigrant. It must include the unborn child. It must include the disabled person.
If Our Lady of Guadalupe is our mother, then they are all our brothers and sisters.
Let us follow the example of the pregnant Virgen de Guadalupe and embrace the cause of the unborn, realizing that every life is precious in the eyes of God, and that it is our duty to help every mother in need.
Following the example of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we must embrace the marginalized and those most at risk, and help them to see that they have a God, and a mother who cares for them.
And let us also today remember those brave martyrs of the Church for religious liberty in Mexico whose dying words were often Viva Santa Maria de Guadalupe.
If this is the Catholic hemisphere, then it is also Mary’s hemisphere – under the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Let us join our hearts together with hers to build a common home for all – a true civilization of love.
And let us begin today.
Let us remember, if every Catholic in this hemisphere were to live life based on love of God and neighbor, that would be millions, and millions would be a civilization.
Humildemente pedimos la intercesión de Santa María de Guadalupe para todos los que vivimos en este Continente de la Esperanza y el Amore.
¡Viva Santa María de Guadalupe!
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